KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — When it comes to the pandemic, most people only highlight the downside (of which there are many!).
Interestingly, one of the pluses has been the emergence of incredibly good food from home cooks.
I was introduced to Cherine Soh’s home-based business via a friend. From what I understand, Cherine started the business to supplement her family’s income to fund her children’s education during these difficult times.
As my friend is a huge food lover, she is always on a lookout for good food that she can feed her family.
Cherine has been cooking up various home style dishes for the Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents. They do a group buy and the dishes are delivered every Friday evening. Orders must be placed by Tuesday to allow Cherine time to prepare them.
The menu is a mix of Hokkien, Hakka or just home style dishes your mother would have cooked up for dinner. You can choose from Hokkien ones like braised duck with herbs, pork cabbage rolls, braised tofu or Tung Poh braised pork with steamed mantou.
If you prefer heartier Hakka flavours, she also has vinegar pork trotters, braised pork with preserved mustard (mui choy), yam abacus seeds, braised pork trotters, ginger braised duck and my favourite, stewed yam pork belly. There is also steamed herbal chicken, dumplings and pongteh chicken.
As these are family sized meals, you will be paying RM82 for a whole braised duck weighing about 1.7 to 2.1 kilograms. Or say RM27 for 10 pork cabbage rolls with a net weight of 400 grams.
Her menu has lots of details such as the weight, sizes and what ingredients she uses so you can make informed choices that suit you. It’s definitely one of the better organised home businesses I have come across with all the information at your fingertips.
I had ordered the steamed herbal chicken for RM60. Cherine uses the much sought after Bukit Mertajam (Da Shan Jiao) chicken for this dish and it’s juicy, succulent.
I loved the smooth texture of the chicken which was very fresh. The chicken is wrapped with many layers of paper and foil.
All I needed to do was steam it for 10 to 15 minutes and I had a lovely meal that could easily feed four to six people, depending on how many other dishes you are serving.
The herbs used lend a nice aroma to the chicken. It is also not too strong which makes it perfect for fussy young palates. I liked how the chicken was also stuffed with red dates and gizzards. You also have the chicken feet with the gelatinous skin and fats.
One of my favourite dishes is kaw yoke or stewed yam with pork belly. I’ve tried many versions but they seem to fall short in terms of taste and texture. Usually the pork belly is not soft enough or the yam doesn’t have that much sought after flaky texture.
Cherine’s version was almost perfect for me. She nailed the texture — succulent meat with more fat, tender meat and soft skin — and the yam pieces were perfect. It’s a little redder in hue, thanks to the use of preserved beancurd which gives it a more intense flavour.
Most places tend to cut back on this which means the braised meat isn’t so flavourful. Instead they over compensate with five spice powder that drowns out the meat and yam flavours.
For those who are watching their weight, it may be a fattier bite but you really do need the balance of the fat for this dish to shine.
The portion is substantial for RM40; it can feed me for a few meals. Just separate them and store in the freezer for one to two weeks.
As Cherine says, she finishes that in two or three days in her own home. Just before serving, steam it for 10 to 15 minutes and the sauce will coat the meat and yam.
Orders for the food must be made at least three days in advance.
You can pick up the food from Cheras or arrange for delivery to your place provided you pay for the delivery charges. If Taman Tun Dr Ismail is nearer for you, you can also join the group buy for Fridays. They will be opening up orders for next week.
Cherine Home Cooked Food, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. You can WhatsApp Cherine at 016-2352099 to place an order at least three days in advance.